We just wrapped up this year’s IT/Dev Connections conference in Las Vegas, and I came away from the show with a number of different impressions and a lot of feedback from the event’s speakers and attendees. Although this kind of feedback is in no way scientific, I think it can provide a quick gauge of the IT community and help us see what’s hot and what’s not outside of our normal circles.

Related: 2013 SQL Server Connections Conference in Las Vegas

Industry Trends

So what were some of the big trends I saw? First, the adoption of Windows Server 2012 is fairly high. In the virtualization sessions I presented, almost two thirds of the attendees had installed Windows Server 2012. I found this adoption rate to be faster than most previous versions of the Windows Server OS. There’s no doubt the adoption has been primarily driven by the huge improvements in Hyper-V and probably to a lesser degree by the expansion of PowerShell. And speaking of PowerShell, it was the technology that came up the most when I asked attendees what technologies they're looking to learn in the next year. Most people recognize PowerShell's ubiquitous nature and understand that knowing more about it will help them in their day-to-day jobs. In the SQL Server space, SQL Server 2008 remains the most popular version.

Cloud

In contrast, the cloud seemed to be biggest vendor-championed technology that just hasn’t really taken flight. Perhaps that blanket statement isn’t truly accurate because some cloud technologies, such as Office 365, appear to have enjoyed wide acceptance. But others, such as Windows Azure and Windows Azure SQL Database, are lagging behind. Office 365 seems to have hit a sweet spot, and many businesses are using it. For Windows Azure, most IT people who are using it are primarily utilizing it for testing and development. Not so much for running production workloads. However, many were considering the cloud for future DR implementations.

Windows 8

Finally, what about Windows 8? Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn’t completely rejected. I talked with a couple of our deployment experts, and they both confided that Windows 8 deployments in the enterprise are at a standstill. Most companies are either still working to get to Windows 7 or they've recently completed the move to Windows 7 and aren’t ready to make the move to Windows 8. That said, I heard from a number of attendees who were using Windows 8 and they liked it. But I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t the Metro interface or the apps or the security enhancements that they liked. Almost without fail, they lauded the benefits of the Hyper-V virtualization support in Windows 8 Pro. Many of the IT pros using Windows 8 are using their Windows 8 desktops and laptops as virtualization test platforms.

What About Jobs?

Not surprisingly in this era of cloud computing, IT professionals were also concerned about their future careers. In his IT/Dev Connections keynote address, Mark Russinovich made the statement that IT jobs weren’t going away. Instead, they would just be changing to include cloud technologies. However, later in that same keynote, he talked about Microsoft running Azure implementations with just two people—laudable, but a bit concerning from the job standpoint. Other IT managers I talked to stated that right now the cloud isn’t one of their top issues. Even though the economy is struggling, finding and hiring qualified candidates for their current task is a challenge. While I’m sure this struggle varies according to the type of job and the area, evidently the cloud hasn’t affected today’s IT job market to a great extent.

In addition to providing great educational content, conferences like IT/Dev Connections can really help you keep up with what’s going on with your peers. Even if you weren’t able to make this year’s event, hopefully I shared a taste of some of what was happening in Vegas this year.

Related: Video Recordings from 2013 IT/Dev Connections Conference SQL Server Track